Could you benefit from a health coach?
Date: Jul 2019
Do you need a health coach?
Is eating healthily, exercising and finding time for yourself at the bottom of your to do list? You’re not alone. According to a survey from the Mental Health Foundation, a staggering 74% of us felt ‘so overwhelmed we were unable to cope’ which is no surprise, given the pressures of modern life. We’re so busy working, taking care of our family, juggling social events, our health quickly falls to the bottom of the list.
If you can relate to this, maybe health coaching is something to consider. By just making the smallest changes in your day to day life, a health coach can help you transition to a healthier lifestyle and offer guidance on aspects of your health such a stress, diet, menopause and help you manage your chronic condition.
What is a health coach?
A health coach is there to help you gain the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to help you reach your desired health goals in small, achievable steps.
“The cornerstone of health coaching is that small things make a big difference, and it is consistency over time that delivers results. It’s all based around giving the body the right tools to balance itself and allowing it to sort itself out (which is what it is constantly trying to do). And those tools are – fresh whole food, hydration, sleep and stress management.”
“We are about helping people take small, incremental steps so that they can eventually take back control of their health in a way that is not stressful (i.e. doesn’t involve turning their lifestyle upside down) or damaging (doesn’t involve unrealistic claims or fad diets).”
“It’s not rocket science! but many people need help to stick at it, and that’s where we really deliver value – it’s that whole piece around overcoming resistance, perfectionism and self-sabotage that makes such a big difference.”
This month saw the start of a series of Ask The Experts sessions with UK Health Coaches, see some of the highlights from our Q&A session and don’t miss your chance to join in beginning of August for our next session.
Diet & Stress at work
Caroline asked: "I would like to know how I can improve my stress levels especially at work please. I have always had anxiety problems and need to address this issue please".
UK Health Coaches: Yes, in our always-on and always-connected world stress is having a big impact! Please know you are not alone in feeling that stress at work is a common challenge.
Being health coaches, we look at all aspects of a person's life to help them bring balance back to mind and body, including nutrition.
So, to fuel our body with the things that it most like to use for energy, it's a great idea to focus on whole foods as much as possible. If we top up with vegetables/salads, fruit, nuts, seeds and chosen protein, there is less chance we consume fast and processed foods which literally rob our bodies of energy and actually create stress for us (in our bodies).
They also recommended:
- Taking regular breaks and stepping away from your desk and work environment
- Ensuring you stay hydrated throughout the day
- Standing up regularly and performing stretches to help your body relax – you can do this while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil at work or lifting your feet off the floor while reading your emails, and taking the stairs rather than the lift
- Checking your breathing and try putting one hand on your heart and one on your belly button and whilst nose-breathing, (into your belly if possible - so that your lower hand moves out with each inhalation) breath in for a count of 4, hold it for 7 and then exhale through the nose for 8 counts. Repeat 3 times.
- Try and get outdoors during the day to help cope with stress and eat your lunch away from your desk to relax your eyes
- Writing down the things that cause you the most stress on a piece of paper and focus what you can manage /hand off / get help with / reframe and treat them separately
- Working out if you have any control over the situation that is stressing you out – is it something you can change or influence?
IBS & OCD/Anxiety
Guest Post: “I suffer with chronic OCD/anxiety and related ibs with dreadful bloating and constipation. Can you recommend a product e.g. do Pro or pre biotics help or are they just a gimmick? My GP says no evidence they work but the medication he prescribed does nothing. I look about 8 months pregnant! It is so uncomfortable please help."
UK Health Coach:I am so sorry to hear that you are in discomfort. I can relate to your issues as I have suffered from anxiety and stress related IBS.
I personally take a probiotic which has prebiotics and enzymes in as these feed our gut bacteria (called microbiome) and keep them healthy and functioning. You can get these from any good health food shop or pharmacy. In addition to probiotics, you can also look at what you are eating: a good plant based diet, with lots of fresh fruit, veg, legumes (beans and lentils) and whole food proteins (fish, meat, eggs) will also help regulate your digestive system. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir and a good probiotic yoghurt can also help with this.
There is also evidence to show that our guts and brains are connected. So if our tummy is happy, so is our mind, but also vice verse. So while above, I explain how to keep your tummy happy, you can also help to relieve some of the anxiety you may have which can also cause IBS symptoms. You could look in to trying meditation, mindfulness, yoga or even talk therapy.
UK Health Coach: There is a very strong link between anxiety and IBS symptoms owing to the feedback loop that exists between our digestive tract and our brains. IBS is a multi-factorial condition that can have many different root causes including food intolerances, gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in your gut bacteria) or damage to the gut lining caused by certain medications, smoking or alcohol. For many people simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga can have a profound effect in both helping to prevent and manage symptoms, but food also plays a very important part .
One of the first things is to identify which foods are most likely to trigger your symptoms and sometimes keeping a food journal can help you work out the culprits. Likely suspects can be wheat/gluten, dairy or even a certain type of sugar that is found in particular fruits and vegetables.
A qualified health coach or nutritionist can help you to work this out. Depending on your situation and the cause of your particular IBS, pre-and-pro-biotics can be useful, but the best and simplest way to ensure you are keeping your gut healthy is to minimise all sugary and starchy foods and eat a good range of vegetables to keep your fibre levels up.
Anthea asked: "I am going through the menopause, I am 52 years old and work full time, eating healthy diet counting calories and exercise 3 times a week and often more depending on how tired I am. I am suffering badly with fatigue and lack of energy and have to push myself to do normal things.
I do have good days and sometimes a week of really pushing myself to stay awake at work and to go to the gym after work. I am on anxiety pills which has helped as I was feeling anxious about stupid things since starting the menopause but the main thing is the fatigue and energy. My mother took HRT and died of breast cancer so I am a little reluctant to take HRT, please can you let me know what may help."
UK Health Coach: Do you have any other symptoms? Such as brain fog or itchy skin? How is your sleep at night? Do you wake up feeling refreshed and get tired later on in the day? Or do you wake up feeling tired as well?
Sometimes too much exercise (depending our own particular needs at any given point in time) can cause as many problems as it solves. Strenuous exercise when we are tired, could be an additional stress on the body which could make the fatigue worse. I wonder whether you need to push yourself to go to the gym after work? Maybe taking a walk or a yoga class would be a better options for you at the moment?
I am also interested that you say you are counting calories. Does this mean you are on a low fat diet?
Our food requirements change as we get older and, although we need fewer calories, we need relatively more protein than we did when we were younger to keep our energy levels up. Also eating a lot of starchy carbohydrates and grains can make us tired by causing our blood sugar to spike and then it drops very low which makes us feel exhausted (often the cause of that mid-afternoon slump in energy).
Menopause is a unique experience for every woman who goes through it. What works for one person, may be completely irrelevant for someone else! But our symptoms are there for a reason - and that is to tell us that something needs to change. Nine times out of ten that something is to do with our diet, but there are also other potential causes as well.
If you would like to ask a question directly to our UK Health Coaches, join our next Expert Clinic in August , find out more about our next session now.
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Next review: 12 July 2022